Guest: Bob Levenhagen
Bob Levenhagen – Owner, President, and CEO
Mary Levenhagen – Owner and CFO
Rod Weinzierl – General Manager and COO
TnT Customs opened for business in late 2004 as Bob transitioned from active duty with the United States Air Force to retired life from military service. The business was started in a small rental space of about 600 sq ft where they mostly did custom work on various Jeep models – suspension installs axle and motor swaps and custom fab. TnT Customs current manufacturing division came about from the need in the early days to have quality parts that fit well and performed exceptionally. Seeing a need for a better solution, TnT Customs developed the original Y-Link control arm, which resulted in a long arm upgrade for the XJ platform. As their suspension systems expanded across the Jeep lineup, TnT Customs saw the need for a complete line of complimentary body armor; culminating in their Guardian and Adventure Series lines. The need for one specific part, lead to a corporation that manufactures high end niche’ products and solutions for popular Jeep models.
Q and A with Bob Levenhagen:
Q: How did the company start? What niche was it trying to fill?
A: The company was started to provide a service to the local Jeep community; however, word spread quickly and we were taking in Jeeps® to be built from all over the West. Through our custom builds a need and opportunity was realized, we needed to manufacture a line of parts that Bob was building for his customers, so that all could have access to his innovations
Q: Typically, what is your time to market on a product? What are the steps you go through?
A: Our timeline to market varies depending on the product. Our suspension solutions, for example, can take years before they are available to the general public. We drive it and wheel it and tweak things – when needed. Next we will acquire a second vehicle, typically a close friend or previous customer and set their Jeep up with a pre-production part and do the same – take them wheeling all the while being receptive to their feedback. See a trend starting here? We wheel our Jeeps! Next up is opening an opportunity to a closed group to try one of our parts, by now we have built jigs and dialed in manufacturing processes. We take the group out wheeling to do photos and videos, with Bob as Trail Boss. I’m really doing more than spotting; I’m looking at how the dynamics of the suspension or the clearance of the part has relative to the obstacle or trail. When we are satisfied, we release the product. We do not arm chair design anything. All parts go through rigorous field testing.
Q: What is the company’s favorite event to attend? Why?
A: TnT’s favorite event? That’s a tough question, we like them all, in a general we prefer small intimate events where we can be directly involved with the guests and participants. We like new venues, who doesn’t? It’s the explorer in me I like to see where a new road leads and what’s over the next hill. So to answer your question, what is our favorite event? One where we can go Jeeping!
Honors and Awards:
2011 WY Small Business of the Year
Product Line Categories:
Accessories/Recovery Gear, Apparel, Axle Trusses & Mounts, Axle Upgrades, Brackets & Mounts, Bumpers, Corner Armor/Rear Fenders, Fabrication, Fenders (Front Full Replacement), Frame Stiffeners, License Plate Mounts, Lighting, Rocker Protection, Skid Plates, Steering & Trackbar, Suspension, Suspension Components, Tire Carrier, TNT Stuff
Technology and Innovation:
Guardian Series Body Armor, Adventure Series Body Armor, Trail Boss Jeeps, Y-Link Control Arm.